Mitchell County Commissioners
Monday, June 23, 2014
By Terry Bailey
The regular weekly meeting of the Mitchell County Commissioners opened with the yearly report of the Mitchell County Historical Society and Museum. Kyle Peterson, Director of the Mitchell County Museum, was on hand to update the commissioners with a review of last year’s major activities, a look forward to activities planned for 2015, and a look at where things are and possible paths of action for the Historical Society.
The old nurse’s dormitory that has served as the Museum for many years has major structural concerns. According to Peterson, architect Donny Mars has said, “It isn’t condemnable at this point but it is fast coming to that.” Peterson said, “We need to get out before it goes in.” Several years ago the Society purchased the old American Legion building near the junction of highways twenty-four and fourteen. At that time, relocating all the historical artifacts to that building was planned.
“It has a great basement that is fireproof and tornado proof,” said Peterson. But the structure is actually three buildings put together under one roof. Over the years strong winds have twisted each of the buildings and the roof causing extensive leaking problems. According to Peterson, part of the building has had interior walls put in and other parts have only the one metal wall.
Commissioner Ton Claussen was quick to comment, “I’ve got to tell you that people come to see what is inside the museum and not the building. I am only speaking for myself but it seems wise to do what is necessary to make the current building secure and weather tight and then have the best displays possible.”
No clear cut consensus was arrived at but Peterson summed up the big picture by saying, “My number one priority is taking care of the artifacts entrusted to us. In a hundred years, we will all be gone, but we hope the artifacts continue to survive far into the future.”
Peterson told the Commissioners that the budget proposal he was presenting to them was a status quo budget with no requests for increased money. He also said they had received two large memorial donations in the last year but there is no way to predict when the next such donations will be made.
A “Good Road Days” activity is being planned for the 2015 Mitchell County Fair. In the original national Good Road Days project in 1914-1919, the first paved road in that project was a paved highway from Simpson to Beloit.
A celebration regarding the first Horseless Carriage parade is being planned. This was the largest outdoor activity undertaken in the City of Beloit.
The first-ever Rising River Music Festival is being planned for August thirtieth and thirty first at the Mitchell County fairgrounds. Sharon Sahlfeld has worked very hard to sign up fifteen bands from across the United States to play at the festival. There will be bands playing bluegrass music, county music, folk music, rock and roll music and many other types of music.
Commissioner Claussen asked about the status of the wheat binding and threshing demonstration. Peterson said plans had been made to go into the fields to work, but they were having trouble finding any wheat that was tall enough to work with.
Larry Emerson, Superintendent of Public Works, presented the Commissioners with the final grant application documents for their signatures. According to Emerson, John Cashatt has been instrumental in putting together the information for the grant application. An emphasis has been added regarding the economic development factor for the proposed work.
Emerson reported that the work is progressing as expected on the Tice Bridge project. The crews have finished most of the work on the east side and have moved to the west side.
A fifteen minute executive session was requested by Emerson to discuss non –elected personnel. When the regular meeting resumed, it was announced that no decisions had been made.
Robbin Cole, executive director of Pawnee Mental Health Services, and Kathy Webster the Board Chair, gave their annual report to the Commissioners. They asked to announce that they still have an opening on the Board for someone from Mitchell County to fill.
Last year, Pawnee provided services to seven thousand seven hundred and eighty seven unduplicated clients. Two years ago, Pawnee provided services for two hundred thirty nine people with Mitchell County addresses. This past year the number grew to two hundred ninety eight clients. Cole said, “There is a continual and growing need for services in Mitchell County.” The Beloit office is open on Tuesday and Wednesday of each week for traditional therapy services.
Cole explained the change in how services are now offered to clients previously served by Medicaid. Governor Brownback’s initiative for reforming the program replaces Medicaid with a managed care program known as KanCare. The twenty-seven regional health care centers have been consolidated into five health care regions. The biggest concern is simply, “What affect does this have on people who need services?” That question remains yet to be answered.
With the business of the County concluded, the Commissioners adjourned to their Department Head meeting.
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